Monday, July 14, 2014

MLB Preseason Predictions Revisited

As the Major League Baseball All-Star break has arrived, I’m going to take the chance to revisit my preseason predictions. Some are spot on, or well within reach and some are pretty far off base, including my guess for the World Series champion. Below is the order in which I predicted teams would finish and the original snippet about the division. I’ll now provide an updated comment as to whether my predictions can become reality by season’s end.

American League East - Predicted Finish
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. New York Yankees (WC)
  3. Boston Red Sox (WC)
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Toronto Blue Jays
Preview Comment: Many suggest this is the best division in baseball. The top three here will all make the playoffs beating up on the other divisions along the way. Each team could win 82+ games.

All-Star Break View: Well, this is certainly not the best division in baseball. The teams I had pegged for fourth and fifth in the division are first and second. The Orioles have played solid baseball for the last month and the Blue Jays have begun to fade already. The Yankees, currently in third place are decimated with injuries and have not played consistently good baseball all season. The Red Sox have wasted their honeymoon period from the 2013 World Series victory and the Rays, while playing better of late, might have dug a hold too big to climb out of. That being said, the way this division is playing out, I would not count the Rays out of this one. If there is a manager in the game who can get his team to play above themselves it’s the Rays’ Joe Maddon. I now only see one team from the division making the playoffs and it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

American League Central - Predicted Finish
  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins
Preview Comment: Detroit is loaded and primed for a big season. The Royals could edge out one of the AL East teams for a wild card spot.

All-Star Break View: I have each team in the correct spot right now. I’m not sure it was all that difficult. Maybe the Indians could have swapped spots with Kansas City or Chicago with Minnesota and no one would be surprised. There was a time just a few weeks ago that the Royals were atop the division. But the Tigers have gone on a huge run and now have a comfortable 6.5 game lead over the Royals. I don’t suspect much will change here. The Royals are just 2.5 games back of the wild card hunt so my hunch that they could reach the postseason still has a chance of coming to fruition.

American League West - Predicted Finish
  1. Oakland Athletics
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros
Preview Comment: The Rangers will be unable to overcome slow start and the Athletics stay consistently good throughout season.

All-Star Break View: The Athletics might be the best team in baseball. The Rangers have lost a considerable part of their rotation and the Angels are playing much better than I expected. The Mariners have also surprised, while the Astros are one spot above where everyone suspected. The A’s will run away with the division crown and the West could be the best division in the American League (three playoff teams) when all is said and done.

American League Championship Series – Rays over Tigers

All-Star Break View: This is obviously a long shot considering the Rays’ current position. But again, stranger things have happened. Right now, an A’ versus Tigers series seems most plausible.

National League East - Predicted Finish
  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Miami Marlins
  4. New York Mets
  5. Philadelphia Phillies
Preview Comment: Nats could win division by 10 games ahead of decimated Braves squad. Marlins will open eyes. Phillies hold massive fire sale.

All-Star Break View: OK, so I was a little too aggressive with the Nats here and totally off-base with the Braves. Both teams are tied atop the division as the Nats continue to underperform in my view based on the roster they put on the field. The Mets are ½ game ahead of the Marlins so I’m not too far off this division. The Phillies are in the perfect spot for the fire sale I believed would happen back in March.

National League Central - Predicted Finish
  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates (WC)
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs
Preview Comment: The Cardinals prove once again to be an exceptional organization. The Pirates don’t miss a beat, but come up short in top heavy division, but outlast Reds.

All-Star Break View: I was right about one thing, this is a top heavy division. The top four teams are separated by just 3.5 games. But the Brewers are playing much better than I (and many others) suspected. It’s possible this division could finish exactly as I predicted, though it will be tough for the Cardinals after losing Yadier Molina for 8-12 weeks. I think one thing is clear and that is that the division is completely up for grabs, but I’m not sure they get a wild card team into the playoffs now. That could be reserved for the team that finishes second in the NL East.

National League West - Predicted Finish
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants (WC)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies
Preview Comment: The Dodgers go wire to wire, but the Giants make them work for the division title.

All-Star Break View: Well, nowhere near a wire-to-wire feat for the Dodgers. The Giants came out strong, but Hollywood’s Heroes have recently taken over first place from their rivals. The Diamondbacks can’t hit and sit at the bottom of the division lumped in a group with the Padres and Rockies.

National League Championship Series - Dodgers over Cardinals

All-Star Break View: Is this still a possibility? Yes. But, I don’t think it will happen with Molina on the shelf for such an extended period. Look for the Dodgers to still win the NL pennant but over the Nationals, who I still expect to win the NL East.

World Series Champion – Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays finally complete the ultimate goal by showing a remarkable ability to win with less.

All-Star Break View: Wow, I'm apparently awful at predictions. There was a point in time where the Rays had the worst record in the game. Some better play of late gives them a modicum of hope, but if I had to pick now, it looks like the Athletics and Dodgers could be playing for all the marbles with Oakland edging out Los Angeles.

AL MVPMike TroutLeads AL with 5.5 fWAR

NL MVPYadier MolinaWas 20th in NL in fWAR before getting hurt. Looks like Troy Tulowitzki holds an edge over 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen at this time.

AL Cy YoungChris SaleTied for sixth in AL fWAR

NL Cy Young Stephen Strasburg2nd in NL fWAR just behind Adam Wainwright

AL Rookie of YearMasahiro TanakaTanaka was cruising along until an elbow issue sidelined him for the next 5-6 weeks and potentially the remainder of season into 2015. The award is now Jose Abreu’s for the taking.

NL Rookie of YearGregory PolancoAfter a quick start once called up in mid-June, Polanco has cooled off and currently owns a .698 OPS. Reds’ outfielder Billy Hamilton (38 SB) could run away with the award.

AL Manager of YearJoe MaddonOnly if the massive comeback can be completed.

NL Manager of Year Don MattinglyIf Dodgers win division and the Brewers do not, Mattingly could garner the award over Ron Roenicke.

So, there you have it. My preseason predictions revisited. Despite missing the entire AL East, most others are either spot on or are within range of happening. What about you? Did your preseason guesses make the grade so far? Let me know in the comments.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.